Nariño's Southern Campaign

The Nariño Southern Campaign was a series of military actions between December 1813 and May 1814, under command of Antonio Nariño, leader of the Republican State of Cundinamarca, against Spanish forces in the south of New Granada.
It had the objective of dislodging the Royalist presence in the south after the defeat of the first independence movement in the province of Quito (1812), a fact that put the New Granada provinces, that had retained their early independence, at risk. Nariño's army took the city of Popayán (December 1813) and the surroundings of Pasto (May 1814), but was decisively defeated in the Battle of Ejidos de Pasto (10 May 1814), ending the campaign in total failure.

Nariño Southern Campaign
Part of the Colombian War of Independence

Nariño in the Southern Campaign by Ricardo Jiménez Campuzano
DateDecember 1813 - May 1814
Result Spanish victory
State of Cundinamarca Spain Kingdom of Spain
Commanders and leaders
Antonio Nariño (POW)
José María Cabal
Juan de Sámano
Melchor Aymerich
1.200 infantry, 200 cavalry at the start,[1]
2.000 men at the start[2]
1,500 infantry, 500 cavalry, abundant artillery,[3]
600 men, 15 pieces of artillery at the end[4]
1,200-2,500 at the start
1.500 men and 10 pieces of artillery at the end[4]
Casualties and losses
1,000+ 500-1,000

Start of the campaign


After Nariño's triumph in New Granada Civil War in January 1813, hostilities were suspended and it was agreed to confront the Royalist attacks coming from Venezuela to the north, and the province of Quito to the south. Thus, in March 1813, the centralist leader of Cundinamarca, Antonio Nariño, and the federalist Congress of the United Provinces of New Granada decided to assist the Venezuelan troops commanded by Simón Bolívar and José Félix Ribas, who would undertake the so-called Admirable Campaign against Venezuela.[5]
Nariño, in the meantime marched south on 21 September. Manuel de Bernardo Álvarez, Nariño's uncle, remained as interim president of Cundinamarca in Santafé. Nariño's army crossed the central mountain range through the Guanacas moorland, then passing in Neiva and crossing the Magdalena River, until reaching the outskirts of the city of Popayán.

Battles of Alto Palacé and Calibío


On 30 December 1813, having crossed the moorland, a force of 300 men commanded by Colonel José María Cabal, defeated 700 Royalists in the Battle of Alto Palacé, forcing Juan de Sámano to retreat to Popayán, and abandon that city shortly after, destroying the artillery that was located there. This retreat allowed the occupation of the city by Nariño's troops the next day.[4]

Sámano regrouped at the Calibío hacienda where he was reinforced with troops commanded by Colonel Ignacio Asín, an officer known for his successive triumphs over the independentists in the region. In Calibío, they clashed with the army of Nariño on 15 January 1814, in a bloody battle that would last for more than three hours and that would be decided in favor of the Patriots. In this action, the Cundinamarca troops conquered many weapons and Asín was killed in combat.[5]

Sámano fled with the remains of his army to Pasto, where he was relieved of command by order of the governor of Quito Toribio Montes and replaced by Lieutenant General Melchor Aymerich. After the Battle of Calibío, the Royalists had not been pursued by the Patriots, due to the difficulties of the terrain, the lack of reinforcements, the permanent attacks by guerrilleros in the region and the presence of Royalist spies in the city who could report on their movements. Due to this, it was only on 22 March that the Patriot troops left for Pasto.[5]

Battles of Juanambú, Cebollas, Tacines and Ejidos de Pasto


After a painful march through rought terrain and harassed by guerrilleros, Nariño's troops arrived at the Juanambú River on 12 April. There they were met by the Royalist army, and only after two weeks of fighting, finally were able to open the road to Pasto on 28 April. The march towards the south continued amid increasingly violent fighting, until Aymerich was defeated again at the Battle of Tacines, on 9 May 1814.[6]

With the road clear to Pasto, the divisions commanded by Nariño marched to the city on 10 May, encountering the Royalist army in the city's outskirts (ejidos), mostly composed of armed inhabitants of Pasto. However, Nariño was ambushed, wounded and abandoned by his rear guard who believe him dead. This triggered a decisive attack on his remaining troops and resulted in a total victory for the Royalists. Upon retreating, Nariño found that the bulk of the army had fled towards Popayán, so he decided days later to surrender to the Spanish authorities in Pasto.[7]

After the defeat, Nariño would remain a prisoner for a year in the city and then would be transferred to the Cádiz prison in Spain and would only return to the country in 1821. this campaign had seriously weakened the Republicans and would lead to the disappearance of Cundinamarca in December 1814.


  1. ^ Ortega Ricaurte, Daniel (1960). "Antonio Nariño". En Album del sesquicentenario. Aedita, pp. 105.
  2. ^ Thibaud, Clément (2003). Repúblicas en armas: los ejércitos bolivarianos en la Guerra de Independencia en Colombia y Venezuela. Bogotá; Lima: Planeta & Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos, pp. 172. ISBN 9789584206145.
  3. ^ Álvarez S.J., Jaime (1988). Este día en San Juan de Pasto y en Nariño. Pasto: Casa Mariana, pp. 292.
  4. ^ a b c Soledad Acosta de Samper. "Biografía del general Antonio Nariño" (in Spanish). Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  5. ^ a b c Rodrigo Llano Isaza. "HECHOS Y GENTES DE LA PRIMERA REPUBLICA COLOMBIANA (1810-1816)" (in Spanish). Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango. Archived from the original on 14 August 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  6. ^ "Batalla de Tacines" (in Spanish). Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  7. ^ Armando Montenegro (30 May 2004). "10 de mayo de 1814: La derrota del Precursor" (in Spanish). Revista Semana. Retrieved 11 November 2011.